End-to-End APM Automation

Automate Everything!

The Need for Speed

Agility and automation are 2 key concepts of DevOps. Unfortunately there is an entire sector of tooling that fails miserably in these areas and impacts the ability to fully realize the benefits of DevOps.

Pete Abrams, one of our founders, recently wrote an article for DevOps.com titled The Need for Speed Demands New-Era APM The key premise is that today’s business success is dependent on how fast you can deploy new versions of applications.

The selection of microservice architectures plays a big part in achieving faster code delivery velocity. The need to shorten the time it takes to write code, test it and deploy it into a production environment, has resulted in an increasing adoption of automation to help with shortening this life cycle.

Automation is already extensively used in the application development process. Developers have for a long time used automation tools for such as:

  • IDE
  • Jenkins
  • Ant
  • Maven

The use of automation does not stop with developers; Operations have also been using automation for a long time with tools such as:

  • shell scripts
  • Chef / Puppet / Ansible
  • Virtualisation
  • Cloud platforms

and more recently, Kubernetes container orchestration.

Automation along with the adoption of techniques such as Agile and DevOps have resulted in considerably shorter development lifecycles, with code releases typically happening every couple of weeks. This is why you are continuously updating the applications on your phone. More extreme practises are pushing multiple versions into production a day, something that was unimaginable in the past when typical waterfall release cycles were yearly at best.

The IT Operations Problem

These modern product delivery techniques efficiently deliver a constant stream of changes into the production environment, ensuring that the offered service remains competitive and feature rich. To ensure that those services, once deployed into production, operate in a prompt and error-free manner it is essential to monitor them. Unfortunately, this is where the wheels fall off the slick application delivery machine. The level of automation available in traditional monitoring technology forces an extensive level of manual configuration. The result, monitoring rapidly falling behind the deployed environment, causing incidents to be missed or falsely reported.

overwhelming application errors

The high rate of change and dynamic infrastructure associated with modern application delivery requires that the level of automation available during development and deployment is extended to include the monitoring of the application in production; after all, the return on investment happens at this stage in the product life cycle.

New monitoring technologies are required that are every bit as capable of automation and intelligence as the other tooling used in the DevOps tool chain.

The Solution – APM Automation

The ideal monitoring solution should be able to continuously adjust in response to the constant stream of changes and require zero configuration. It should utilise Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques to understand the behaviour of the application thus automatically provide appropriate notifications. The collected data should be high fidelity to ensure that short-lived transients, often present in containerised applications, are not missed and to provide sufficiently dense data to be used for training of the AI. In other words, the ideal monitoring solution should be heavily automated to match the rest of the delivery toolchain and maintain velocity throughout the application delivery lifecycle.

Instana accomplishes this vision with its monitoring capabilities for modern applications built on the six pillars of application management. The Instana agent performs continuous automatic discovery of infrastructure and services. The 1-second resolution metric data is handled by AI on the backend; a combination of a curated knowledge base and Neural Networks provide pertinent notifications on infrastructure health and service quality. All of this is achieved with zero configuration for most technologies. Try Instana today and see what AI powered observability is really all about.